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Everything in a season: WSU summary shows October weather anything but constant

PULLMAN, Wash. – What a difference a month makes. October clearly lived up to its reputation as a transitional month in Washington, as conditions shifted from warmth, wildfires and frost to heavy winds, rain and snow.

“The one constant in October was change,” said Nic Loyd, Washington State University AgWeatherNet meteorologist. “It was as if all four seasons were condensed into one month.”

A Web based, publicly available system, AgWeatherNet provides access to near real-time weather data and value-added products from WSU’s statewide weather network, along with decision aids for agricultural producers and other users.

Dry weather in early October temporarily prolonged summertime concerns about wildfires and smoky skies. On Oct. 12, rainfall at Pullman ended its 103-day dry streak. Cool and unsettled weather later in the month brought a taste of winter to Washington with the first accumulating snowfall affecting mountain passes on Oct. 20.
Following highs in the 70s and 80s on Oct. 1, cooler air entered eastern Washington from the north on Oct. 3 bringing wind gusts as high as 58 mph. The dry continental air allowed temperatures to drop as low as 18 degrees in Pullman on Oct. 5, and widespread frost affected much of the state.

However, abundant sunshine allowed for large temperature recoveries during the day. In fact, Long Beach rose to nearly 80 degrees on Oct. 7 after failing to reach 67 degrees in July.

Significant changes were under way mid-month, as a more active pattern ushered in the first storms of autumn. Wet weather engulfed western Washington mid-October and 1.3 inches of rain fell at Long Beach on Oct. 14.

Moist, subtropical air caused much warmer low temperatures compared to earlier in the month. Pasco only dropped to 60 degrees on the morning of Oct. 15. However, another major shift occurred on the 20th, as cool and unsettled weather moved into Washington. Oct. 22 was the coldest day in south central Washington since March, as clouds and rain capped maximum temperatures in the upper 30s and 40s.

The high at Wenatchee Heights was 37 degrees, while areas near the mountains, like Naches, received more than a half inch of rain. The autumn chill represented a drastic change from the 60s and 70s the area had enjoyed just three days earlier. The 24th was another wet day, with Chelan South picking up 0.63 inches of rain.

The month ended with active but milder weather, as significant rain continued in western Washington. Breezy and moist southerly winds sent temperatures into the 60s and low 70s, with balmy lows in the 50s across southern areas.

Overall, October temperatures were above normal. Following 11 dry days to begin the month, western Washington was wet during much of the rest of October. Long Beach, for example, experienced only two dry days during the final 20 days of the month and accumulated a monthly rainfall of nearly 13 inches.

After several parched months, nearly all of Washington had received a soaking rainfall by month’s end.

“A successful growing season is now concluding with a productive harvest,” said AgWeatherNet director Gerrit Hoogenboom. “The dry weather that persisted through early October facilitated a larger than normal apple crop. However, the recent rainfall has benefited the eastern Washington dryland wheat growers by adding much needed moisture to the soil. Luckily, the weather has offered something for everyone this year.”

For more information about Washington’s October weather, please see the October Weather Review on the AgWeatherNet website at http://www.weather.wsu.edu, located under the AWN News link.

Media Contacts

Nic Loyd, WSU agricultural meteorologist, 509-786-9367